Queen’s speech 2021: key points for businesses

The Queen has outlined the government’s plan to “level up” opportunities across all parts of the UK in her speech at the opening of parliament.

In a speech in the House of Lords, the Queen announced a list of planned new laws that government intends to pass in the year ahead.

This list included a number of bills that were already in progress during the government’s previous session in parliament, which ended in April.

She said that the government’s priority was to “deliver a national recovery from the pandemic that makes the United Kingdom stronger, healthier and more prosperous than before”. To achieve this, the government would “level up opportunities across all parts of the United Kingdom, supporting jobs, businesses and economic growth, and addressing the impact of the pandemic on public services,” she said.

The Queen highlighted that government would follow the “unprecedented support” provided to businesses during the pandemic by bringing forward proposals to create and support jobs, and improve regulation.

Here are a few key points for businesses:

  • A new post-Brexit Subsidy Control Bill will introduce measures to ensure that government support for private businesses “reflects the United Kingdom’s strategic interests and drives economic growth”.

  • The Procurement Bill will set out laws to simplify public sector procurement to replace EU rules on how the government buys services from the private sector.

  • The National Insurance Contributions Bill will include details of tax breaks for employers in eight new freeports, previously announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in his 2021 Budget. The freeports will “create hubs for trade and help regenerate communities,” the Queen said.

  • Legislation included in the Dormant Assets Bill and the Charities Bill will support the voluntary sector by “reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and releasing additional funds for good causes”.

  • Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will support a Lifetime Skills Guarantee to enable “flexible access to high-quality education and training throughout people’s lives”. The bill will include reforms to the student finance system and will give adults access to a flexible loan to fund studies.

  • The Environment Bill will introduce post-Brexit laws on protecting nature and set “binding environmental targets” in line with the UK’s commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The government will also “invest in new green industries to create jobs, while protecting the environment,” the Queen said.

  • Under the Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill, a new advanced research agency will be established to search for groundbreaking scientific discoveries, with ministers overseeing the “fastest ever increase in public funding for research and development”.

  • Connectivity across the UK will be improved via the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, which will look to extend 5G mobile coverage and gigabit-capable broadband.

  • The High Speed Rail (Crewe – Manchester) Bill will take forward proposals to improve connectivity by rail and bus, including the next stage of the HS2 high-speed rail line.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said that the success of the government’s levelling-up initiatives would hinge on its ability to reach the UK’s 5.9 million small businesses and sole traders “that drive our economy forward and are at the heart of local communities”.

Cherry said there was “a lot to welcome” in today’s address but called for the government to put its pledge to support job creation into action. “Delivering on the measures outlined today in a manner that facilitates a small-business-led levelling up will be critical to our economic recovery,” he said. “So too will be renewed action to tackle the wider challenges facing small firms as they seek to reopen and get the economy moving again.”

Ann Francke, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, commented: “We’re delighted to see the Queen’s Speech focus on skills – it’s the right priority in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic UK. And a greater level of employer engagement will help ensure we develop the skills that businesses actually need – creating more opportunities for those seeking employment and building a stronger, more resilient economy.”

To read the Queen’s speech in full, visit GOV.UK.

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